Top Tips For eBay Beginners

Posted on: 29 August 2008 by Gareth Hargreaves

New to eBay? Then you need our essential advice on buying and selling.

Most of the things bought on eBay are household items that you probably have gathering dust around your house. New, unused goods do particularly well but whatever you're looking to sell, you can nearly always find a buyer.

eBay offers you the thrill of the auction from your own home and the chance to grab a real bargain or even get rid of what you believe is junk.

However, with all eBay's positives, it’s worth pointing out that there are also one or two dark characters who would be willing to take advantage of a new customer, unfamiliar to the world of online auctions.

If you’re new to the world of eBay, before making your mark it's well worth reading our top tips for buying and selling and avoiding a negative experience.

First Time Buyers:

  • Browse the site – take some time to look at the different categories. Find out what’s on sale and how much similar items sell for.
  • Check sellers’ feedback – see what other users have said about them. If you click on a seller’s feedback, you can check out their detailed seller ratings, which tell you what their customer service is like. And don’t forget to leave feedback once you’ve received your item. Be honest and open, so that other buyers will know what to expect.
  • Communicate – if you’ve got any questions about an item, for example postage costs or item size, just ask the seller direct, before you place a bid.
  • Compare prices - Look elsewhere on the internet for your item to make sure eBay is offering the item you want at the best price.
  • Don’t be naïve - Assume that any auction that looks too good to be true probably is. Don’t buy anything from a seller whose feedback details are hidden.
  • Bid, bid, bid - Once you’ve found the item you want, just enter the maximum amount you’re prepared to pay and eBay will bid on your behalf. Avoid obvious prices, like £5, in favour of something a bit more obscure, such as £5.51 – to help you pip someone to the post by a few pence. And if you enjoy the thrill of the auction, you can bid right down to the wire. Almost a third of bids happen in the last five minutes of an auction listing.
  • Pay safe – when paying, keep your transaction on the site and pay with PayPal to make sure you’re protected up to £500. Never use a money transfer service such as Western Union or Money Gram. There’s a high risk of fraud associated with these types of payment services and they’re banned on eBay.
  • Feedback – Don’t leave negative feedback before giving the seller a chance to correct the problem.
  • Buy before selling - The best way to learn how eBay works is to buy a few items before you start selling.

First Time Sellers:

  • Start your listing at the right time – have a think about the best times to list. Don’t list in the middle of the night because it will end in the middle of the night and you’re likely to miss out on some last minute bidding.
  • Start at a low price – if you keep your start price low, you’ll attract more buyers. Sellers who start their items at 99p attract more buyers than those who put in a high reserve price.
  • The title is vital – the first thing that buyers see is the item title. You only have 55 characters to get their attention, so make them count. Include details on conditions and size. If it’s new or used, say so.
  • Retail with detail – make sure you include all available information when you’re describing your item and use good, clear pictures. Also, make sure you’re on hand after the sale to provide great customer service. This will ensure positive feedback and a great experience for both you and your buyer.
  • Add detail to your post - Make the effort to take a good photograph and get a Certificate of Posting for everything you send. Say that you will send your item abroad as you’ll get more bids.
  • Don’t go overboard - Don’t waste money on unnecessary and expensive listing extras and don’t lie about the item you are selling in the description.
  • Be prepared - Make sure you have packaging organised before you list an item. A week goes very quickly. Answer any buyers’ questions promptly.
  • Always deal with eBay - Don’t ever respond if someone asks you to contact them directly to arrange a deal instead of completing the auction through eBay. Never respond to emails purporting to be from eBay and PayPal. Neither companies will ever ask for your login information.
  • Wait for payment – Don’t send an item before you’ve received payment for it.
  • Don’t flood the market – If you have more than one item the same or in a similar category, only list one at a time. That way you’ll get more response.

Do you buy or sell on eBay? Do you have any top tips for trading on online auctions?

If so, let us know by leaving a comment in the box below. Alternatively, share your thoughts with other 50connect members in the forums.

Share with friends


You need to be signed in to rate.